UPDATED: Ontario COVID-19 Checklist: What Requirements Apply to Your Workplace?
As Ontario begins to emerge from its province-wide shutdown, many employers may again be considering the province’s requirements for re-opening their workplaces. Below is a quick checklist of what every employer must know. For further details, see the Ontario COVID-19 report in our Knowledge Centre.
When is the Shutdown Over?
First step is to figure out if your public health unit region is still subject to the province’s stay-at-home order requiring:
- everyone to remain at home, subject to exceptions for “essential purposes” (e.g., going to the grocery store/pharmacy, accessing health care services, exercising or attending essential work);
- all businesses to ensure that wherever possible employees work from home.
The stay-at-home order was extended for Toronto, Peel and North Bay public health units until March 8, 2021. All other public health units are in the grey, red, orange, yellow or green zone. Click here to see what zone you are in.
General Compliance & Assessment
As always, employers must ensure that they are complying with all applicable laws, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Also, employers must follow any public health advice, including with respect to: physical distancing, cleaning or disinfecting, screening and working remotely.
Employers must assess their workplace (where applicable, in consultation with the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative) to determine what they need to do to protect the health and safety of their workers in light of COVID-19.
All business that are open must prepare, make available and post (in a conspicuous place) a safety plan. The safety plan must describe:
- the measures and procedures implemented to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19;
- how the requirements will be implemented, including by screening, physical distancing, masks , cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, and the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE).
See Ontario’s template safety plan.
Every businesses must ensure that anyone:
- in an indoor area or vehicle they operate; or
- lining up/congregating outside of the business
wears a mask that covers their mouth, nose and chin, subject to exceptions, including for those:
- unable to put on/remove a mask without assistance, or with a medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask;
- who need to temporarily remove their mask to: receive services, engage in fitness, consume food or drink, or as required for health and safety;
- requiring accommodation per AODA or the Human Rights Code;
- working in an area not accessible to members of the public and able to maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from everyone else;
- children under age 2.
Businesses must ensure that members of the public maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres while indoors or waiting in line outside the business, except:
- members of the same household;
- individuals with masks completing transactions or passing each other in confined locations.
Sanitation & Hygiene
Generally, employers must clean and disinfect the workplace regularly, but, in particular, Ontario regulations require any washrooms, locker rooms, change rooms, showers and equipment available to the public to be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as necessary to maintain a sanitary environment.
All businesses must ensure that they are screening individuals by:
- posting signs at their entrances advising people how to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entering the business;
- actively screening every worker before they enter the premises.
In addition, businesses must maintain records of the screening results for at least one month, which may be requested by local public health for case and contact tracing.
Generally, training programs must include information on common workplace hazards and occupational illness. In addition, workers who must wear or use PPE must be instructed in its care/use before wearing or using it.
Upon becoming aware of a worker being exposed to COVID-19 at the workplace, employers must notify:
- the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board within 3 days;
- the Director (if an inspector so requires) and, where applicable, the joint health and safety committee, representative and union (in writing) within 4 days.